Brandon Yip has a message for all you kids out there.
Just show up, put in an honest effort – and you never know where it will take you.
Yip, now with the Kunlun Red Star pro hockey team based out Beijing, China, after years in the NHL, says any career has its ups and downs.
“But the best advice I can give youngsters is to respect yourself and respect everyone else. I always try and work the hardest, while having fun at the same time. Be true to your word for yourself and for others, and the rest will fall into place.”
Yip just signed a two-year deal with Red Star, which just joined the Kontinental Hockey League last year. It made the playoffs in the first year. It’s currently coached by Mike Keenan.
He’s also has another bit of advice, a favourite quote, that’s helped him.
“Ninety-nine per cent of life is showing up and doing what you said you were going to do.”
The product of the Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association spent five years in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators, Phoenix Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks, and two years playing in Germany with Adler Mannheim and Dusseldorfer EG.
Now he’s playing the game that he loves on the far side of the world, which includes a grinding travel schedule. However, the league tries to minimize the strain of travel by scheduling longer home stretches and longer away times. He gives one example when the team will catch a 10-hour flight to Moscow then play nearby teams for two weeks, then return to Shanghai for a few weeks. The team is playing out of Shanghai until a larger arena is complete in Beijing.
“I actually don’t mind the schedule because when we are home, we can stay up to a month at a time.”
This year, he’s played in Switzerland, Finland, Russia, Latvia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
“So it’s a cool way to see the world. I would say Shanghai is my favourite so far.”
As for style of play, the Olympic-sized ice allows players more time to display their skating and skill.
“Which is something you don’t have a lot of in the NHL.”
Yip says that coach Keenan is an “old-school coach” and knows how to win.
“I think he’s softened up a little since his NHL days, but he can still bare down on you if you are not performing, which I think is fair.”
Yip says the team’s current home of Shanghai is more westernized than he expected.
“The people are really cool and friendly and there are a lot of them … over 25 million in Shanghai alone.”
And air quality isn’t as bad as perceived. Some days can be worse than others, but it’s not bad in either Beijing or Shanghai and it’s improved in the last few years.
“So far I have not noticed the air quality being poor and visually have not seen any smog.”
Yip says the team is a mix of Canadian, American, European and Russian players and the only Chinese players were all born in North America. The plan is to have the players of Chinese descent play for China in 2022 Winter Olympics.